Howell Leads Tide Past Tennessee
Alabama pitcher Del Howell (3-1) held the Vols to one run and five hits in seven innings for his third win of the season. He added 13 strikeouts and walked one. The 13 strikeouts are the second-most in a game by Howell this season. He had a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 24-0 win over Alabama A&M on March 17. His previous SEC high for strikeouts was eight at Kentucky on March 15, 2008.
"He pitched very well," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "He attacked the zone and went right at them. He didn't try to do anything fancy. He went right at them with a couple of pitches and got ahead in the count. In the times he did fall behind, he came back and made something happen. It was an outstanding performance."
The Tuscaloosa native retired the first seven UT hitters to the set the tone on Saturday. He had at least one strikeout in all seven innings and recorded multiple strikeouts five times. Howell struck out the side in the second inning, a stretch of five straight strikeouts.
"My slider was good," Howell said. "I threw mainly fastballs and sliders and threw them for strikes. I thought things worked pretty well for me today."
Wells picked up his 800th career win on Saturday, to improve to 800-398 during his 20-year coaching career. He is 608-309 in 15 years at Alabama, after posting a 192-89 record at Northwestern State. He is the 28th active Division-I coach to win 800 games and the 59th coach in NCAA history with as many wins.
"The main thing to me is that we won this game," Wells said of the milestone.
Alabama (19-10, 5-6 SEC) scored six runs on 10 hits, but found a way to win its 10th straight SEC home series with good pitching and some timely hitting.
"It was a team win," Wells added. "We didn't have to win 15-11. We hadn't had too many of those. More than just the win was the way we won. Hopefully that will give us confidence."
The Crimson Tide got on the board in the first inning when sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson homered off the scoreboard in left-center field to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.
Alabama added three more runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. Tennessee starter Nick Hernandez hit sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge and Wilson with a pitch to open the inning before Matthes stroked an RBI double down the left line to score Rutledge. Matthes finished the game with two doubles.
Junior third baseman Jake Smith capped the inning with a two-run single to left as UA took a 4-0 lead.
Hernandez (1-4) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings for the Vols. He struck out six, walked three and hit two batters.
The Crimson Tide added a run in the fifth inning for a 5-0 lead. Junior first baseman Brandon May led off the inning with a double and scored on junior designated hitter Clay Jones' two-out single to center.
Tennessee (12-18, 1-10 SEC) used a pair of two-out hits in the seventh inning to avoid the shutout. Pinch-hitter Mike Moore stroked a two-out double to right and then scored on Tyler Horne's RBI single.
Alabama sophomore right-hander Nathan Kilcrease worked two scoreless innings in relief and added two strikeouts, giving the Tide 15 strikeouts in the game.
Alabama and Tennessee will conclude the series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. (CDT). Tickets are available online at www.RollTide.com or at the Sewell-Thomas Stadium box office two hours prior to game time.
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